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Bucket list - South Africa trip

Discussion in 'International Timesharing' started by TAG, May 28, 2016.

  1. TAG

    TAG TUG Member

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    We're headed to SA! A week at Sanbonani and a week at Wilderness Dunes.

    I am confused about a couple of things:
    1. Cell phone. I'm finding it difficult to book some things in advance without a SA cell number. Can I get one before we leave? Any recommendations?
    2. Internal flights. We're leaving George to return to JNB for our flight back. How much time should we allow? Are delays common? Preferred carrier?
    3. Any advice?
    :whoopie:
    TIA!:)
     
  2. rhonda

    rhonda TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    The three cell phone carriers we encountered in our 2 week visit of 2013 were:
    During our trip we carried two AT&T-configured Apple iPads from the States. On arrival, we purchased SIM cards and pre-paid data plans from Vodafone/Vodacom for one unit and MTN for the other. Between the two we had nearly constant data coverage and reasonable connection speeds (3G at best; most often Edge).

    The plans ran, at that time, about $21US each for the SIM + 250MB data. Vodofone accepted American Express; MTN did not.

    Not sure if you can arrange similar before travel. Perhaps you could provide the resort manager's name/phone number as a bridge for booking activities, tours, etc.?
     
    clotheshorse likes this.
  3. TAG

    TAG TUG Member

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    Making preparations!

    We solved the cellphone problem. We're going with a Vodafone prepaid, and we can collect our SIM card at the airport. They say they will email us our SA telephone number two weeks prior to departure. A bit spendy, but easy.

    Does anybody have experience with Elephant Whispers or the Shangana Cultural Center? Worth a visit?

    Through the magic of Facebook, we reconnected with a guy that had done a year as a visiting scientist in my wife's group at work...about 30 years ago. We've been promising them we would visit all this time. They are providing transportation and have booked us a couple of nights in Kruger.

    I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! :banana: Doesn't look like we will have time to visit Dikhololo though. :(
     
  4. Karen G

    Karen G Moderator

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    Be sure to post all your adventures when you return. Have a great trip!:wave:
     
  5. TAG

    TAG TUG Member

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    Our trip to South Africa - long

    :clap::cheer::hi:

    We're back from our trip to South Africa! I had high expectations, and they were exceeded!! We saw an amazing number of animals in their natural habitat in Kruger National Park: elephant, giraffe, hippo, lion, rhino, impala, leopard, gnu, zebra, klipspringer, kudu - the list goes on and on. Our South African friends visit Kruger often and they said we were very lucky to see so many different species on our trip.

    We had a timeshare at Sanbonani. It was OK, but I don't think it's a gold crown level timeshare. They had a hippo roaming the grounds, so they said to be sure and call if we wanted to go to the restaurant, bar or pool after dark. But the phone in our unit didn't work, which was a known problem. The unit was spacious, well-stocked and had daily maid service. There was a nice covered eating area outside. Wifi was only available at the main complex, for a fee.

    While visiting Kruger, we spent 2 nights in a rondavel at Skukuza Rest Camp. Nice! On our next trip I would book additional nights in a rest camp and skip the timeshare so as to spend more time in the park.

    After we left Mupulanga we headed down towards the Cape for a week. We had an exchange at Wilderness Dunes. We were fortunate that our unit (31) was a level shot from the parking area. Most of the units have at least one flight of stairs to climb. The view of the ocean from our unit was spectacular! There is a flight of stairs down to the beach (over 100 steps), but we didn't make the journey. Each unit has a covered parking space. The unit was spotless and had daily maid service. The unit is right on a bluff overlooking the ocean but has no source of heat. You can put down a deposit and check out a small space heater (along with a coffee maker and blow dryer). There is a token-operated central laundry (3 washers, 3 dryers). Internet was available in the unit for a fee. During our week we visited Storm River Park, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Victoria, Mossel Bay, Prince Albert and drove the Swartberg Pass. Spectacular! We also visited the Elephant Sanctuary in Knysna. I was a little reluctant about visiting, as I have heard stories about how the elephants are treated in some tourist areas. This was amazing. The elephants are free to roam a large pasture. The humans are taken to the elephants. If an elephant gets tired ot the humans, it is free to walk away. The best part: you can purchase a small bucket of food and feed the elephants! That was a totally awesome experience. The "shuttle" (a trailer with seats behind a tractor) runs about every 30 minutes and you can spend as long as you like walking and touching the animals. Well worth it!!

    We were plotting our next trip before we left! It's a brutal flight - over 26 hours of flight time from Seattle to Johannesburg, going thru Dubai - but worth it.

    We had some flight issues. For a variety of reasons we were a day late leaving the US (the cost to rebook on Emirates was the equivalent of a new ticket). On the way home our plane was in the queue for take-off when a passenger had a heart attack. We had to return to the gate as the passenger and his luggage were taken off. We missed our connection in Dubai and ended up spending about 24 hours there, so we were a day late getting home.

    Our only real conundrum was that in Johannesburg, in the duty-free, secure area of the airport, we purchased a 300ml bottle of Amarula Cream Liqueur (excellent!!). It was in a clear sealed bag with a receipt. It went through screening in JNB, it went through screening twice at DXB, but it was taken away by TSA in SEA. The TSA agent said that if it had been a clear liquid in a clear bottle in a clear bag with a receipt they would have allowed it. The options were to put it in our checked bag or drink it there. Our bags had been gone close to an hour by the time we made it through the line to TSA, so putting it in checked bag was out. My full plastic water bottle was allowed through with no question. Another passenger had purchased perfume in DXB in the secure, duty-free area and it was taken away as well. I don't understand their ruling.:mad:
     
  6. happymum

    happymum TUG Member

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    Thanks for the review! As an owner at Wilderness Dunes, it's great to hear that you enjoyed your stay there. Your entire trip sounds like an excellent adventure.
     
  7. Karen G

    Karen G Moderator

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    Thanks for your review! Glad you had a great trip. Don't forget to do a review for the timeshare stay in the TUG Review section.:)
     
  8. Nicky

    Nicky Guest

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    I hope you have fun!
    I live in SA and know all the resorts, so if you need advice please shout!
     
    lorenmd likes this.
  9. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    Hi Tag, somehow I missed your post. Great report, BTW.
    Our trip is getting closer and I am seriously planning now. We plan to stay in the park for at least one night. How do you book a rondavel at KNP? Does it provide bedding or do we have to bring with us?
     
  10. rhonda

    rhonda TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Please do tell us more about booking and staying in the Rest Camps. We drove through them and noted, "Next time!" when we visited in 2013. So ... how does one book? What is provided? (Do we need our own bed linens, towels, etc.?) Thx!
     
  11. TAG

    TAG TUG Member

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    We were fortunate that we have friends in SA. They did the booking for us.

    You can, however, book through SANParks.com.

    We paid about R1300 for a rondovel with toilet, shower, a/c, outdoor kitchen, two twin beds a locking cupboard and a small safe. Ours wasn't new, but it was very clean. It came with bedding, plates, utensils, pots, pans, wine glasses, etc. There's a small convenience store in the main building with limited provisions. Each rondovel also has a brai, but you need to supply your own wood.

    We had a fabulous trip. We had high expectations and they were exceeded. However, when we were there it was exceptionally dry. The animals were close to water, and there wasn't much foliage to get in the way of seeing them. We took three game drives - morning, dusk and evening. The morning drive is before the park opens in the morning, and the evening is after it closes so there are no other cars on the road. That's nice. We were in a truck with about 20 other people. Good viewing, even so. Our friends provided the game drive tickets, and I don't recall how much they cost. You can arrange the game drives at the reception desk at the main rest camps. They seem to be very accommodating.

    We purchased a Wild Card prior to our US departure, mainly so that we didn't have to worry about paying the conservation or entrance fees. We were in several parks while we were in SA, so it paid us to get the Wild Card upfront.

    Tom
     
    klpca, LisaH and rhonda like this.
  12. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    Thanks Tom for the update. Did you receive the Wild Cards in the mail prior to your trip to SA?
     
  13. TAG

    TAG TUG Member

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    Yes, we did.
     
  14. Ivy

    Ivy Guest

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    It sounds wonderful! I have heard that South Africa can be so refreshing!...now if only i could convince the Mr. :ponder::ponder: He keeps saying next year...next year. Goodness gracious, how do i convince this man that we need to see Cape Town before we are too old to travel anymore. Haha
     
  15. richontug

    richontug TUG Member

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  16. tarahsu

    tarahsu TUG Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I am going to look into it for 2019.
    Any "must do's" you would recommend?
     
  17. scorri4888

    scorri4888 TUG Member

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    Hello, I realize that this is an old thread but I am technology challenged so I am asking questions here. We have a trade in for early August 2019 for SunSwop @ Sabi River . Has anyone ever heard of it? We have a 7 day reservation and would like to add on additional days to our trip. We love travel especially nature travel. We are very excited about this trip! But should we "add" days in a park reserve or check out another part of the country or a different nation in Africa. It will be a long flight from Chicago and would like to use our time well. Thanks for any suggestions.
     
  18. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    We went in Oct 2017 and it was one of the best trips of our lives. We stayed in Kruger Park Lodge for a week then at The Peninsular in Cape Town for the second week, both were RCI exchanges. While staying at the Kruger Park Lodge, we booked one night inside the park and took a ranger-led morning game drive there. Well worth it. Before Kruger, we extended our trip one day in Jbuerg and 3 days in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. While in Vic Falls, we also went to Zambia and Bostwana as day trips. We saw Sabi River Resort when driving around Hazyview and Kruger. It looked nice from outside and it also receives good reviews on TUG. If you become a member, you should be able to access the TUG reviews.
     

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